It is not always easy to find a shrub that fits perfectly into our garden; a common problem is the hedges, which very often are formed with the same, usual plants; very beautiful and easy to grow, certainly, but also so common and widespread that we often lose interest in them. If we want to prepare a hedge, but we don't want to plant the "usual" Fotinie, or perhaps we want something with more showy flowers, we can decide to look for a nice variety of Escallonia in the nursery.
These plants, whose cultivation gives us decidedly few concerns, have a long series of advantages; they originate from the American continent, and there are various species and varieties.
These are evergreen shrubs, quite vigorous, which do not fear frost too much and develop well in the sun of Italian summers; the foliage is dark and shiny, very pleasant; throughout the summer, at the apex of the branches, they produce small racemes, which bring together many small star-shaped flowers, white, pink or fuchsia, often very fragrant. The escalation is perfect for those who want a beautiful impenetrable hedge, with flowers for long months; but they are also ideal for cultivating as single specimens, especially with regard to varieties with larger leaves or flowers with very bright colors.
For those who only own a terrace, or particularly love potted plants, there are also dwarf varieties of escallonia, small balls that are completely covered with star-shaped flowers.
These shrubs prefer sunny or semi-shaded locations, also because, if they are planted in a very shady or dark area, they tend not to bloom, losing most of their pleasantness.
The flowering is summer, and takes place on new branches, so if we want flat plants of flowers it is advisable to practice a beautiful pruning in early spring, when the nocturnal lows begin to rise; in this way we will stimulate the development of many new branches, and therefore a much more abundant flowering. In addition to this, regular pruning helps to keep the hedge more tidy and favors the development of denser and denser shrubs, with a more pleasant shape. Developing freely, in fact, often the escalation tends to take on a rather messy and not very compact appearance, not always elegant.
The soil must be rich and very well worked, possibly characterized by good drainage, so that water stagnation does not occur, which could prove very harmful to the shrub. Watering is provided only during the summer, and only when the soil is dry, as these plants do not like the excesses of watering, and tolerate drought quite well. Escallonia is a fairly rustic plant, which can withstand short frosts; if we live in an area characterized by very cold winters, it is advisable to place the plants near a wall or in any case well sheltered from the wind; otherwise it is likely that at the end of winter the plant can suffer damage caused by the cold. In general, occasional burns caused by frost can simply be removed with pruning to stimulate the development of new healthy vegetation.
Fertilization is quite important, but, as with most garden shrubs, it is advisable to supply it with a slow release fertilizer, which will be supplied at the end of winter, and will gradually dissolve as the weeks go by.
Prune the hedges
In general, to prepare hedges, vigorous and resistant shrubs are used, which can withstand the cold well and which develop well every year. Unfortunately it is not always easy to find the most suitable shrub, because if you choose a decidedly very vigorous shrub, as it happens for the lauraceraso, the piracanta or the bambù, then you will have to do more pruning during the year, to contain the exuberant growth of plants; if instead you choose a slow-growing plant, such as boxwood or some varieties of ilex, you risk waiting many years before having a real hedge, or having to keep a hedge full of "holes" as a result of bad weather or to very cold winters, which force us to drastic pruning of the ruined branches of the cold. When we choose a hedge then let us know from our nurseryman about the peculiar development characteristics of each species and variety, so as not to have to passively suffer the development for us that is not suited to the plant we liked so much.
In addition to this, particular attention must be paid when trimming a hedge that has been chosen for its flowers. In fact, not all plants have the same behavior, and not all require pruning at the exact same time of year. Some hedges in fact produce flowers only on new branches, those sprouted in the current spring; This is the case of escalation, but also of roses and oleanders; on this type of hedges, a vigorous pruning in late autumn or late winter, almost certainly leads to an abundant flowering during the beautiful season following. Other plants instead prepare the buds already in spring or autumn, and therefore their flowers will bloom on the old branches, which already have at least a few months of life; This is the case of forsythia, Judas tree, viburnum; so if we decide to vigorously prune our forsythia hedge, in late winter, we will have the result of removing most of the flower buds, also removing much of the hedge's attractiveness.
Let us always remember that shrubs have very different behaviors, it is therefore difficult to generalize, although guides are often found that give advice of the kind; in February the hedge plants are pruned. It is true that, at the end of winter, pruning helps us to keep the garden tidy, but if it also robs us of flowers, perhaps we should wait for a more propitious moment, and look at the "messy" garden for a few weeks more .
Very vigorous erect shrub, height up to 4.5 m diameter 6 cm, evergreen with shiny and aromatic leaves. Non-compact growth and growth habit with glossy, ovate or lanceolate leaves.
red tubuloses gathered in terminal panicles, bloom in July August.
Multiplication: in August - September, cuttings 8-10 cm long are taken from the non-flowering semi-woody branches, with a portion of the branch carried, and are put to root in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts, in cold box, at the maximum temperature of 13-16 ° C. The rooted cuttings are individually invaded in 7 cm containers, filled with the compost from vases; during the winter they are kept in a cold box. In May the containers are outdoors; planting takes place in April of the following year.
Exposure: sunny or partially shaded
Temperature: it does not tolerate cold; it is advisable to cultivate it under the shelter of a wall and provide protection during the winter.
Watering: fairly moderate throughout the year; the important thing is that the soil is never completely dry.
Fertilization: at the beginning of spring, it is advisable to administer a multipurpose fertilizer.
Soil: it grows well in universal well-drained and fertile potted soils, which retain moisture.
Pests and diseases: lead pain that causes the death of the branches; the leaves of the attached plants have silvery-metallic nuances, therefore they curl up and fall.